About Me

dave and lori (sase) bechok
I’m Lori Sase Bechok, but I’m partial to my nicknames Sas and Sase – both from my maiden name. Here I am with my husband Dave, whom I believe should be knighted.

Who am I?

I thought I knew.
Until…
A few diseases turned everything upside down.

Before I got sick, I would have said…

I’m an East Los Angeleno who moved to Orange County when I was young.  My soul kept longing for the city, so I returned to Los Angeles for college (go Bruins!) and then joined the bustle of working downtown.  Realizing my true heart was for kids, I went back to school and became a high school teacher, coach, and student council advisor.  That was my dream job.

I love sports and have dabbled in many of them.  Soccer emerged as my favorite, and some might say that my alter ego came out when I was goalkeeping for UCLA.

I am prone to adventure, laughter, spontaneity, and silliness.

I love new restaurants, fun recipes, a good party, and a long walk in a rainstorm.  My best night out would involve dancing for hours even though rhythm isn’t my best asset.

I love music but forsook my first love of singing when I was 11 (more on that later).

I love people.  All people.  Even if they don’t love me.

I wear my heart on my sleeve even though I’ve been warned against it.

I love hard.
I hurt deeply.
I ache over injustice.
I want to make a difference.

Like you, I’ve had my fair share of hardship.

I LOVE LIFE!

Then along came a stomach ache…

In January 2009, I resigned from my teaching job.  Not by choice.  I was heartbroken.  The “stomachache” that began decades ago, was now more than I could handle no matter how hard my athletic-minded psyche tried to overcome it.  After countless years of misdiagnoses and being called a hypochondriac, I finally have labels for my battles:  polycystic kidney disease, polycystic liver disease, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, gallbladder removal, mercury toxicity, vertigo, partial bowel obstructions, pancreatitis, endometriosis, and a whole host of smaller issues.

My greatly loved days of family, work, and social life quickly transformed into a seemingly endless siege of labs, tests, treatments, procedures, injections, surgeries, physical therapy, and more.

I am no longer a teacher, a coach, or an advisor.  I have hardly socialized at all for the last seven years.  Most heartbreakingly, we had to terminate our adoption process – my soul’s biggest, aching anguish.

My personality has dimmed from pure exhaustion.  Medical bills usurp wardrobe funds, and special diets ban restaurants and treasured family recipes.  Pain robs me of my humor, and restricted schedules put a lock on my free spirit and spontaneity.

I rarely feel well enough to put on make-up and straighten my hair.  Truthfully, I look like Herman Munster most of the time.  But hey, who doesn’t love Herman Munster?

Without my titles, my schedule, my personality, and my style…

I couldn’t even recognize myself.

But…

in actuality…

I realized…

I have never known myself better.

So then, who am I?

I am no longer what I do.
Nor am I defined by my diseases.

Profoundly, I realized…

I am still me.

In the rawest form of my humanity…
I am a soul.
With a heart.

I am strong at times… and fragile too.

Sometimes I’m uncannily brave, and sometimes I’m gripped by fear in the night.

I have hopes and fears and scars and dreams.

I need purpose.

I want to love… and be loved.

Ultimately, perhaps I am a lot like you.

If I know one thing…

No matter what you do, what you say, or how you feel…

Whether you’re on top of your game or find yourself failing (not a bad thing anyway, actually)…

Whether dressed for the runway or bed-headed in a hospital gown…

Whether it’s chronic disease or some other malady…

The great thing is:

You are still YOU.

Nothing can take that from you.

Nothing.

So uniquely and perfectly you.

And that’s a VERY great thing.

So, what I care most about is…

Who are YOU?

the melody in malady faviconWhether I know you already or not, I’d love for you to say hello.

If you don’t mind and are so inclined, please introduce yourself in the comments below.  I’d love to learn anything about what you do, what you love, the things you battle, and who you are.

Through the highs and lows, I so look forward to your camaraderie in this journey of LIFE.

I don’t know it all, but I do know that we need each other.

xo!  Sase

PS..  My nicknames are pronounced “sauce” or “saw-say” which might seem a little odd if I wasn’t so used to them. :)

PPS.. If you’d like to know why this blog got started, check out this post.

77 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Well my dearest Sas, I have read your tale and your heartbreak. I wish I could have helped, you deserve all the light and good in the world. Your heart is pure, your love is strong and your will immeasurable.
    I cannot say I have had the level of disappointment you have, but I share in experiencing true disappointment. I have married 2 men that were complete disappointments through no fault of their own, but my own fault of wanting to save them and heal them. I have realised I am the one healing now. My life took a sharp detour in September and has been detrained since then. I am fighting my battle with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I have had to reevaluate what defines me. I too am Herman Munster, or Uncle Fester, or the Airbender Avatar Ang. In any case I know I am all about love, deep feelings and honor. I am honored to be part of your past and your future. Be well dear one.

    • Oh Ang.. your beauty leaves me completely awestruck. Every single time we connect, I am quite sure that I see differently and become better. The brilliancy of your spirit struck me way back in elementary school, and I just continue to be so taken by the beauty that is you.

      i ache over the disappointments and very uninvited difficulties that have crossed your path. Though I don’t know every detail.. as i extrapolate the pain of loss, disease, and hardship, I am all the more amazed at the force of love, depth, positivity, bravery, strength, grace, and hompr that is you. Every time I see one of your posts come through my feed, I am taken by your words. Thank you for living such a wonderfully authentic and sincerely caring life. Your love transforms anyone who is blessed enough to cross your path. You also happen to be a heck of a lot of fun, with such engaging charm and humor. So many unbelievable qualities are yours.

      I so look forward to when we share some lunch and take a walk around the Island. Until then though, know that I am endlessly grateful for you, and I always keep my heart near yours. So honored to share life with you too.

      Love you darling <3

  2. Lori Sas! You are a good writer — talk about a whole-brain person! Math AND composition? Beautiful writing.
    your buddy in Christ, Scace

    • Oh my goodness, Scace! Seeing your name here just sent my soul soaring through the universe. God never fails to encourage me even with just the thought of you. Thank you so, so much for visiting the blog. You could never know how much it means to me. Miss you and so much love to you always.

  3. Dearest Lori,
    I LOVE you so much and am so thankful for you. Your blog stories bring me to tears as I learn so much from you. You are truly an amazing example to so many. THANK YOU!!!
    All my love!! Linda

    • As I’ve probably told you a million times, I don’t even know where in this whole world I’d be without you. The ways you have invested in my life have literally left me speechless countless times. Even today, I am sitting here trying desperately find a way to thank you. When I think of the biggest miracles in my life, YOU always come to mind immediately. I love you so, so, so, so much.

  4. Sase!
    I’m so glad I found you. Nick and I are so lame and not really on any social media except Instagram, that’s how found you. I plan to read all of this after the girls go to bed.

    You are amazing, I love you, I’m so happy I found you!

    Xo,
    Katie Joseph Holt

    • Oh my gosh, Katie!!!!!!! This is THE best surprise ever!! I somehow lost all of your contact information, so I kept sending you love bombs through your mom-in-law. As you know, you and Nick both hold the most gigantic place in my heart and life. i have missed you more than you could know. All I have to do is think of you, and I am reminded of what really matters in life. Having you guys in class will always be amongst my life’s greatest privileges. Thank you so, so much for visiting my blog. You truly could never know just how much it means. I had to take a bit of time off to get my feet back on the ground following my last surgery, but I should be back writing normally again soon. I can’t wait to hear more about your ADORABLE girls. Please give Nick my love.

      Love you, Katie xxo

  5. “Saw-Say”
    The Branda/Freed clan have been praying for you. Thank you for allowing us to ride along side of you through this journey and giving us a glimpse of your joy, fear, pain, bravery, positivity……you’ve made us better people — fearless prayer warriors. Praying for a speedy recovery and a trip to the happiest place on earth — goodness knows you deserve it. All my love, Kathleen

    • Hi Kathleen,

      The day you posted this comment could not have been more perfect. The ensuing days of recovery and treatment can leave you feeling so vulnerable as you wait to see how things sort out. To know that you guys have been praying for me meant the world. I’ve been holding on to your very kind and generous words ever since.

      As I said recently via FB, you are someone whom I’ve always admired. I know we’re practically the same age, but when we were kids that age difference was so much more. I always longed for a big sister (still do), so I tended to look for qualities in other people’s big sisters that I could learn from. You are someone whom I leaned into even though we rarely spent time together. The amazing ways you marked our school during our Uni days really impacted my spirit.

      I’ve also probably told you that I was always so grateful to know that my parents lived on the same street as you during their Sierra Lisa days. I suppose it just brought my heart great joy knowing of your presence on the block. I know they adored you. You bring so much to our world, Kathleen.

      I’ve always been a gigantic Branda/Freed family fan and consider it the biggest blessing to have grown up with all of you. We Sases are so much better because of each of you.

      Thank you so, so much for your prayers. You truly couldn’t know just how much this “Saw-Say” admires and adores you.

  6. Lori, I love you and I’ve missed you so much! I’m so glad to be connected to you again through this lovely blog. Thank you for being brave enough to share yourself like this, I’m going to read every word and pray, pray, pray for your healing. I can’t wait for the post of your miraculous freedom from pain.

    You are the most beautiful person inside and out, the only thing Herman Munster-esque about you is his silly and caring disposition. You emanate the bright light of God’s love through every pore, more than I’ve known anyone else to do.

    Our hearts will always be connected, Lori—I’m so grateful for that.

    And I’ll be the first in line to buy your debut album!

    All my love, Gina

    • Oh gosh Gina…

      How do you do it?? How do you always manage to completely melt my heart?

      Ever since I met you, I’ve always been astounded by your depth of thought, your perfectly dosed humor, and your stunning faith (actually, there are so, so many more things!)… all of which shine so brilliantly through these words.

      I remember reading this right before heading out to LA for my surgery, and I’m pretty sure my heart literally traveled to Washington. You truly could never measure just how much your prayers and words of encouragement meant (and continue to mean) to me. Your authenticity and pure-hearted faith alter my soul.

      I have to tell you too, your comment about Herman Munster really caught me. When I’m not feeling well, my silly side goes dormant. So thank you for knowing me so well. It really, really touched my heart.

      For sure, we are always connected. Always. I also can’t wait for the day that we can share the same space again. I’m going to give you a gigantic hug.

      I love you so much!!

      PS.. How did I not know you have a blog?? I just clicked this link and subscribed! So excited!!

  7. Hi Sase! Just as you were in high school, you continue to be a true inspiration to my life. I wish I could dig in and find the words to describe the enormity of your sparkling and loving influence. Reconnecting on Facebook this past year has been a blessing. No matter what life throws at me, somehow you find a way to sneak into my day to make me smile. I’ll see your blog post or a comment you make on a mutual friends page, and it just warms my heart. I love that no matter how much I know you might be in pain on any given day, you still find the time to wish someone a Happy Birthday. I wholeheartedly believe you are a shining light in so many lives, and that you were put on this Earth to make this amazing impact on all those you come across. I can’t tell you enough how much you mean to so many of us. You are in my prayers, always and forever.

    Love, hugs, and prayers,
    Michelle Blanco Howells

    • Oh Michelle..

      When I read your post, I’m pretty sure my heart touched heaven. I was SO taken by your words. I read your comment multiple times and carried your sentiments with me as I prepared for my surgery.

      I was SO grateful to reconnect with you this year. You have always held such an enormous place in my heart. From the moment I met you, I was so struck by your beautiful authenticity. Your eyes reveal your deep soul, and your smile could seriously light up the universe. Whether it was in my classroom or out on the football field, I was continually awestruck over the beauty of you. You are the best person to be around – whether in fun times, difficult times, or anywhere in between. Your words are always effortlessly dosed perfectly – you always know just what to say.. or when it’s actually just better to stand near in silence. Your discernment, your compassion, your hope-filled perspectives, and so much more – all are life-altering for all of us fortunate enough to cross your path.

      I SO love when your posts and pics come through my feed. I am always so taken by the expression of your kids. Their personalities just leap off the page. It is so evident that your family is full of love and tradition. It’s stunning.

      I so hope that we can see each other soon somehow. Until then, know that I thank God endlessly for you.

      Love you, Michelle. <3

  8. Hello Ms Sase! It is 100% by chance that I found this blog. My son Zach Foster was a student of yours back in the late 90’s. He spoke so highly of you and I absolutely remember the level of enthusiasm you brought to your students. You were so highly regarded by Zach and his friends and for that you should be forever proud. You made a difference. In reading about your illnesses and the road you have chosen to take (and with that choice, the immeasurable impact you are having on people), I was struck by the beauty and promise in your words. Last summer, we suffered the nearly unbearable loss of Zach’s son Colt at the tender age of seven months. The level of grief in losing a grandchild was surpassed only by the nearly insurmountable feeling of inadequacy in supporting my son. Our lives were forever altered in just one week. For nearly a year I could not read of anyone else’s suffering. It was just too hard. But reading your blog reminded me that although some situations appear to be impossible to weather and survive, there are people, many people, like you who continue to find beauty, hope, inspiration and love in difficult times and are willing to share their stories so that others can see that light at the end of the tunnel. I am so honored to be included in your journey although we have never officially met aside from that one student out of the hundreds you touched that just happened to be my son. I’m sending you prayers and strength and wishing you a successful surgery and a speedy recovery. If love and admiration can heal you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    • Karen…

      I know that I already touched base with you via Facebook, but honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever find the proper words to express my heart fully. My heart continues to flood with so many different emotions as I so often think of you, Zach, your precious Colt, and your whole family.

      I am amazed that you chanced upon my blog, and I could not possibly be more grateful. Connecting with you means the world to me.

      It was SUCH an honor to have Zach in class. It was an incredibly unique situation, and somehow I was fortunate enough to be the teacher. The class was full of Zach’s friends. It was a very small class (so unusual, as most classes were around 40). If memory serves me right, there were about 19 guys and 3 girls. Most of the guys were top athletes and very close friends. Ashkahn used to hold big studying sessions for his friends through that semester. As you can surmise by the composition of students, that semester was absolutely unforgettable. It truly was one of my life’s best memories.

      Zach lit up my life from the second he walked into my classroom and continued to do the same with every ensuing day. His signature charm was matched only in great measure by his deep heart. He could make me laugh so hard, and he could also cause me to ponder deeply. He never failed to express his gratitude. I was continually stunned anew by the collection of talent (LOVED watching him on the football field!), qualities, and characteristics that are his. I somehow lost contact with him, and I’d so love to see him again one day when the time is right. Please give him my VERY best. He marked my soul irrevocably.

      I have been grieving so deeply over your beautiful Colt. You’re so right. A loss like that is unbearable.. unlivable.. impossible. My words are failing me.

      As we find beauty, hope, and inspiration.. it doesn’t in any way lessen the vast grief and overwhelming loss.

      I ache so deeply as I write these words.

      And I’m sending you and your family all the love I have.

  9. Sase! I’m finally posting. I will be praying for you and for a successful surgery to reduce the pain you feel. In 25 years a lot can happen, huh? How could it possibly be 25 years? Remember dinner club? I enjoyed those evenings and remember you always smiling. I am struck in this first blog post by you saying you are no longer a teacher or coach. You are wrong. You are a teacher and a coach. You are letting us all know how to press on. And you are doing it by example. I am grateful to have been let in. Good luck with your surgery. Go Bruins!

    • Hello beautiful one..

      Oh Felicia, your words struck the deepest part of me. Between the nostalgia of dinner club and UCLA and the encouragement of still being able to teach/coach in some form.. well, you pretty much had my sappy heart in a puddle at my feet. Thank you so, so much for these very life-giving words. It touched my heart more than you could begin to know.. especially coming from you, someone of whom I’ve always thought the world.

      It means the world to me to have you here on the blog. Sending you guys so much love. <3

  10. Sase – It is hard to find words that adequately express the depths of my soul that you touch with your writing. Your question “who am I” is one that everyone should ask themselves. And not just once, but on an ongoing basis. I can look back on different times in my life and my answer to that question has changed over the years. The deep, inner, core of who I am remains the same while the outer layers have evolved and morphed.
    While you can’t understand the journey that God has laid before you, you have embraced it and chosen to share yourself with everyone you meet. You have not given up on your dreams, just put them on hold. My prayer for you is that you will one day be able to fulfill all your dreams. Until then, may you fine peace and joy amidst the pain. Love you and thankful for the blessing you are to so many.

    • Oh Cyndie..

      You truly could have no idea just how much I soak up your words of wisdom. Your insights have lit many paths for me, and I thank God endlessly for the gift of you in my life. This post was so special to me. It gave me such a sense of peace and bolstered my faith so needfully right before my surgery.

      Thank you so much for always availing yourself to the betterment and encouragement of others. We all learn so much from you. I so hope that we are together in person again one day soon. Know that I’m always sending you so much love. xxo

  11. Hey there girl, you are an inspiration. You have a beautiful way about you and write with vivid clarity. I love reading your posts and am truly inspired by you. You have such an amazing gift of making people feel special. Even though it’s been so many years since we’ve spent time together, I will always feel your warmth. xoxo

    • Oh Dawn… you’re going to make me tear up. I’m sure you could tell during our UCLA days that I always LOVED seeing you. You have that certain something that makes everyone just want to be around you. Your eyes reveal the depth of your care, and your gigantic heart makes everyone feel at home. You also happen to be every kind of fun! :) I’m sure you can tell by my endless gushing, but I’m SO glad that we were able to reconnect. I so love our social media touch points, and I really look forward to the day when we are face to face again. Love you always, my friend. xxxo

  12. I am honored to be your neighbor. Never have I been more inspired by a blog or book than by your words. You express so well what many of us think but don’t know how to verbalize. I am in complete awe of your strength and wisdom. Thank you for sharing yourself.

    • Amy… the honor is MINE. I SO love any moments of time that I get to spent with you and your amazing, heart-grabbing family. :) I so treasure the talks that we share. Even in passing, you never fail to make my soul soar. Your beauty, your authenticity, your sincere care for others.. so, so many qualities that I am enamored with. Thank you so, so, so much for your support with this blog. It means more than you could possibly know. xoxoxxx

  13. And yet you love life…

    You also love people like no one else I know.

    May God bless you, precious Sas, with the kind of joy and love you bless so many of us with!.

  14. And so it goes… one of my very favorite friends and heroes begins her blog! Life has been busy for the past few weeks, and I miss chiming in for the official launch. A big event. A new grandson. And now… wow… its finally HERE! Love the name and love your opening “About Me” description. I’d like to add God’s perfect creation and the best friend anyone could ever dream of having. How about best friend to ever get lost on a mountain trail with, or one and only best inspiration ever? Knowing that your bigger than life spirit and love will bring light and support to the internet and all those following is beyond beautiful. I’ve been waiting to be part of this outreach of love and so incredibly proud of you Sase! Ok. I might be a bit selfish. I’m human, I’ll go to confession! I know now I have to share your brilliance and love with the world! I love you to the moon and back and will forever be the President of the Sase Fan Club! Together we WILL change the world! <3 Julie

    • Julie… my love. There’s never a day that I don’t think of you with tremendous (understatement) gratitude for the gift of this lifelong, life-altering friendship. There’s also never a day that goes by that I’m not insanely, practically palpably, inspired by the ways you live and love. TeamKids is a beaming beacon of hope and world change. The Hudash family is proof positive that life is so immeasurably valuable (and fun!).

      Our memories (and we ALWAYS make them WHENever we are together or even when we’re just talking/texting) fuel my spirit. I thought of you countless times when I was preparing and launching this blog. Your words “raw and unmanicured” were such compelling forces within me. I truly do not know where I’d be without you. Well actually, I’d still be lost in the mountains of Julian. :)

      I love you with every bit of who I am. Can’t wait till we’re together again. Whenever we part, I miss you about a microsecond later. I am so much more me when I’m with you.

      I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Hi Lori! Thanks so much for letting me know you were ‘out here’… writing so beautifully and sharing your journey. I have often wondered why God would move you out of the classroom when, in it, you had such an opportunity to affect lives. Maybe this is your larger platform…? Meanwhile I MISS you in the hallways and ‘heart’ways… True confession: when I saw the name of your BLOG, I misread it as “Melody in Ma’ Lady” (like “my lady”) and now think both are true! ;-) So glad for another way to connect… I will read your postings with such great love, admiration and gratefulness for your life and your imprint on me and so many. xo

    • Oh Anne.. you practically have me in tears over this (in a good way, of course). There is never a day that I don’t long to be back in the classroom, nor a day that my heart doesn’t beat with Warrior pride. I’m SO thankful that I had the chance to teach alongside you. I so loved our camaraderie – in faith, heart, math, and laughter. You are an extraordinary educator, and I am so inspired to know that so many students get to know and learn from you. I, too, am immeasurable better for knowing you.

      Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read my blog. I’ve missed our touch points, so to have you here means more than the world to me.

      Miss and love you so much, my friend.

      PS.. I love that you read it as “The Melody in Ma’ Lady” … haha.. that’s awesome!! And thanks for the upgrade.. the romanticism, the properness .. all things that I could use a dose of. :)

  16. Living as we do is hard, but there are three things to hold onto.

    1. The strength that lives inside us and turns up to pull us back to the world, no matter how bad things may seem.

    2.The belief that we still have more to do and today isn’t the day to give up

    3.and most importantly the love of those who quite simply won’t let us go and protects and cocoons us in a way nothing else ever could.

    With those three things, we can’t only beat these damned illnesses, we can beat the world and anything else it wants to throw at us. You, young lady, have your head screwed on and a heart that has love yet to be shared.

    Hold on to all of them tightly.

    Pam x

    • Pam … in a few short days, you have become one of my heroes. I am so grateful that I found you and your blog. You are, beyond a doubt, one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever encountered. Your blog posts grip my heart.. I feel your words viscerally. Your honest expressions are inspiring and soul stirring… I want the whole world to know you.

      The fact that you visited my blog touched my heart unspeakably. And ….. your comment here….. I don’t even have words. These three things. Yes. My whole soul cries yes. I have found your words of encouragement keeping me company throughout my days ever since you posted.

      You truly could have no idea just how much your life altering words mean to me. With as much as I deal with, I know that you deal with far more .. and still, you emerge with a brilliance that I can’t even take in.

      I so look fwd to reading more of your posts. I’ll be praying for your symptoms to go easy on you. I am here always if there’s anything I can do. Truly.

      So much love.. xxxoox

  17. I absolutely love your blog and can’t wait to read the many more posts that will hopefully come! I think about you so often and hope that one day I will run into you somewhere. Reading your blog brings so much joy to my heart because you were, continue to be, and always will be, such an inspiration to me! You are such a bright light to this world and I will never be able to thank God enough for putting me in your class.

    • Hello beautiful!! How was your birthday? As you know, I threw a gigantic party in my heart for you. :) Kari… oh, my darling Kari… where do I even begin? I know that I gushed endlessly on your FB page the other day, but truly… you have no idea just how much you changed my life. There is a stunning, almost blinding beauty that emanates from your soul.. and it is evidenced in every thing you say and do. You mark our lives with things that are true. Your goodness is life altering for anyone blessed enough to cross your path. I too hope that we will run into each other sometime soon.. I often find myself reminiscing over our run-ins at CJ. :) I am so, so grateful to God for the gift of you in my life. Love you so dearly, my sweet. xo

  18. I hit the post button before I was ready! I live in Atlanta, retired from teaching (Spanish & ESOL), giving and receiving love, peace, joy. Laura Kay is my friend. We are both so happy to have discovered your blog! I am looking forward to more communication. You are so talented with words and so open hearted! I am honored to read your blog.

  19. I was/am so touched by your words, Sase! Your question, “Who am I?” has been knocking at my door for some time now. Who am I without my dark stories? Who am I without my work/career? Who am I without my aging body? Who am I really? Who lives in the depths of my being?
    I have come to believe that I am a spark of divinity inhabiting this body, come to this earth to experience what it is to be a human being. Having said that, I pause and consider all that I could express here. There is so much! I keep growing in my ability to be authentic with others, sharing love and strength, letting my light shine in a continued dance with other lights! I absolutely love connecting with others who are also deeply committed to discovering their own answers. Living from my heart has come to be both my goal and my journey.
    I am retilive in Atlanta.

    • Oh my gosh, Tricia!!!!!!!!!!!!! This post has my heart flooding with joy and gratitude. Thank you so, so much for your beautiful thoughts and insights. You could have no idea just how much it means to me. I would so LOVE to get to know you better. Your multi-layered and very nuanced perspectives speak to the depths of me.

      I LOVE that you were a teacher – and of Spanish and ESOL no less!! I bet we’d have so much fun comparing stories. Those kids! How amazing are they?? I taught math, but for two years I was privileged to teach ESL math. Those are some of my fondest, most inspiring memories. I’ll bet your students LOVED you.

      I can’t even begin to thank you and Laura for reading my blog. It could not mean more to me to travel this journey with you. Please let’s continue this conversation. Your beauty jumps off the page.

      Sending love to Atlanta .. xo!!

  20. A bit about myself? I’m only the most blessed girl on the face of this earth. Literally. No exaggeration. The ultimate highlights on my resume? I’m Ryan’s wife. Sierra’s mom. SASE’S SISTER! Are you kidding me? I am the lottery-of-life WINNER!

    I can’t thank God enough for battering down the walls of your classroom. I, along with everyone else here, have always desired to be one of your students. I guess we always have been. But this blog is the classroom and community I have so desired for you to lead. And I will NEVER have enough words to thank God enough for the immeasurable gift of calling you my dearest, truest friend and SISTER. I love you beyond measure…

    • For days now, I’ve been trying to come up with some semblance of words that could even come close to expressing my heart. This. You. I can’t even.

      I know that every single day, whether my text or voicemail, I always gush love your way. But honestly, in a lifetime of trying.. I could never, ever thank you or God enough for giving me the gift of you as my sis. Sisterhood. I believe it’s something that is one of the most rare and beautiful bonds that this world knows. The fact that God gave me YOU??!! It overwhelms me every single day of my life.

      I could never, ever thank you enough for your help and support with this blog. As in all things (over the course of my whole life), I don’t know where I’d be without you.

      You are God’s lifelong love letter to me… and there’s never a day that it doesn’t leave me absolutely awestruck.

      I love you so very, very much … truly.

  21. Sase!

    I have been meaning to read this for some time, but teaching and helping my students has taken my time as the start of the year. Today I was determined to read your blog. You are such an inspiration! I am going to share this blog with my students in creative writing class, not only for the writing aspect but to inspire them and tell them how lucky I am to have you as a teacher and role model. You are such a strong and awe-inspiring person! I will be home at Christmas and would love to meet or see you if even just to give you a hug.

    Love you so much Sase!

    • My sweetness… I woke up thinking about you. I am so, so deeply touched that you would share my blog with your students. I would so love to reach out to them in any way that you see fit. They are BEYOND blessed to have you as the teacher. At the same time, I can only imagine the joy and inspiration that they give to you as well. Your posts, photos, and stories stir the VERY deepest part of my heart.

      I truly can’t wait till we’re finally together again. Your patience with me has meant SO much. The fact that you never counted me out (even though I heartbreakingly was always so sick when you were previously home) gives me a sense of dignity and hope that you could never know. My labs are coming back quite solid now, so it’s just a matter of symptom control. I’m working hard on that and am bound and determined to be ready for you when you get home.

      Please give your students my very BEST .. and seriously, if there’s anything I can do to reach out to them, please let me know.

      LOVE YOU

      ps… Maybe we should Skype sometime. xo

  22. Sas,
    Greetings from Iowa! What a joy to find your blog via Becky on FB. I’m not sure how much we’ve connected, but I appreciate your words on Wendy Blight’s blog. I’ve connected with Noelle through Encouragement Cafe and had the joy of meeting her and Becky face to face this summer in NC! I love your words here and looking forward to what else God has to say through you! Blessings!

    • Oh my gosh, Jill! What a wonderful surprise!!! I didn’t realize that my sis and Becky were able to meet you! That brings me so much joy. Though you and I haven’t had a chance to talk yet, I HAVE noticed your posts on Wendy’s site. Your words never fail to STIR my heart deeply. Your faith shines so beautifully, and you continually breathe hope and compassion into other people’s lives with your posts. You also have such amazing insights. I remember thinking that I wish I knew you. How exciting for me that this is the start of that!!! Thank you so, so much for reaching out. You can’t imagine how much it means. More from me soon. I’m headed to YOUR blog now (I didn’t realize you had one) .. xo!!

  23. Hello Sase,

    The Melody in Malady is an extraordinarily beautiful love song emanating from the heart of your indomitable spirit. So many of us suffer pain. Thank you for sharing yourself in this way with the world, setting the tone for an authentic space of communication, connection, and celebration. Many of us need teachers like you who have the gift for helping us hear the melody in malady so we may discover – through the shadows of our pain – new possibilities for living a joyful life and singing our own love songs.

    I am grateful our paths have crossed in BABU; you are inspiring my LOVE song!

    Laura

    • Laura.. how can I even express myself adequately? When I read your comment this morning, I think my heart must have skipped a few beats. You really stirred something in me. Thank you so, so much for such generous and encouraging words. Your sentiments are washing over me in ways that I can hardly describe. There’s a poignancy to your expression that is so telling of your beauty.

      I, too, am grateful that our paths crossed in BABU. I would never have been able to launch this without the help I received from you guys. Meeting YOU has been such a pleasure! I would so LOVE to visit your website. Would you be able to share it with me?

      Keep shining, Laura… I can only imagine the lives you impact daily. <3

      • Sase,
        I suspect our mutual gratitude for crossing paths will be an ever-expanding infinity loop! I am sharing your site with my dear sister who has vicariously empowered me to transcend limiting beliefs about physical challenges and pain. I have been witness to, and shared, the extraordinary personal growth and development she has achieved because of her courageous response to myriad physical challenges and pain. And because pain is pain, she opened doors of possibility in my mind-set which helped me discover ways to navigate through, and transform, my own debilitating emotional pain.

        Your request for my web address puts more wind beneath my wings to ‘fly’ again. After ALMOST completely burning myself out physically, financially, and emotionally four years ago, my ‘old’ website – peaceii.com – has been resting in place. It continues to hold an expression of my values and heart’s desires, reminds me of my commitment to ‘be the change I wish to see in the world’ every month when I pay the web hosting fee (lol), and waits to serve as a foundational stepping stone for relaunch of my heart-centered business/career. Baby step by baby step, I am strategically cultivating a relaunch aligned with, and rooted in, my intentions of restorative practices of deep peace and regenerative social, economic, and environmental prosperity.

        PEACE
        Laura

        • I just spent some time on your website… and I am now rendered even further speechless. Thank you so, so much, Laura. The lenses through which you perceive allow you to really SEE people. Thank you for not standing by.. for not letting injustice and misperception prevail. Thank you for building such beautiful bridges. You and your team are sheer beauty.

          I am also so deeply stirred and inspired by the bond of sisterhood that you and your sister share. I’m sure that I will gain so much courage and consolation from her journey and so hope to connect with her.

          “Pain is pain,” .. that resonates SO deeply with me. Emotional pain is often so uninvited, so misunderstood.. and yes, so debilitating. I ache over whatever journey that you’ve traveled thus far, and also take great hope from the courage you’ve manifested to brave the path.

          As for a relaunch, I support you with great gratitude. I’m sure the right time will present itself. For now, I’m pretty sure you’re right where you need to be.

          Your beauty is stunning.

  24. I love the way you’ve expressed your story, Lori! And your question, “so then, who am I?” resonates with me. A question I need to ponder over and sit with the Lord over. My core issue has been chronic fatigue with various side ailments for the last 30 years. I’ve tried to keep up with life, sometimes better than others. Now is not one of the better times. This year I am facing losses of many kinds, too. But I keep getting up each day and slogging through without thought of the following day, lest it be too much. I tend toward pessimism and fear too much, unlike your upbeat attitude and loving gestures that I value! I’m glad to know more of your story, and look forward to the gems and nuggets I’m sure will show up on here!

    • Oh Cheryl, I so miss the days of seeing you regularly. I loved the camaraderie that we shared through our journeys during those days. From my vantage point, you’ve never tended toward pessimism.. my guess is that the sheer longevity of 30 years must just wear on you. As I tell my husband, I’d give anything for just one pain free day. The longer it goes on, the harder it can be to weather. So, I think that congratulating yourself for weathering such a long siege is more than in order. <3

      I'm grieved to hear of the losses and of the increasing difficulty of now. I'm here, if you ever need a little camaraderie. I've always LOVED you to pieces. You have brightened my life so much.. and you've also spoken incredible words of wisdom into my various situations. I'm praying together with you .. chronic fatigue is such a tough one.. it makes it hard to get anything done. For me, it can also mute my emotions and make me feel less like "me."

      Thank you so, so much for supporting me here. Your friendship means the world. <3

  25. Sase,

    First of all, you are an amazing writer! I love how you put your heart and soul into your words. I continue to be inspired by your bravery and honesty. Your journey and the story of so many others who have responded here, is a reminder to me of the individual experience that those with chronic illness endure on a daily basis. As I mentioned before, I am a GI nurse and I see so many young individuals who have no explanation and no diagnosis for their pain. All too often, when there is no conclusive lab or exam, it is clearly chalked up to being a psych issue. I have met too many people who just want answers and want to be believed! And most of all, they just want to be healthy and to live normal lives. You clearly have good days and very, very bad days. And I think the fact that you acknowledge that but that you don’t ever give up is such an important reminder for all of us. I mean it when I say that your optimism inspires me. You are such a reminder to me that there is beauty in this world and that we have much to be thankful for. I most of all love that you were a friend to my beautiful sister and I like to think that she keeps an eye out for you too. I can’t wait to hear more of your journey. XO Mary

    • Oh Mary… I can’t even count the number of times that I read your comment, and perhaps I also gushed about you and Monique to my husband last night.

      Per always, your comments here have touched my soul so deeply. I am so inexpressibly grateful that you are in the nursing profession. As I have told my nurses, you all are the truest of heroes. You see us when we are most vulnerable, and you bring us such unrivaled expertise, dignity, hope, comfort, and care. I could never, ever thank you enough.

      I loved hearing your take on GI issues. I’ve been to countless GI doctors over the decades, and yes, before diagnosed I was told that I’m a hypochondriac (not always in the nicest tone) along with other misdiagnoses. It’s so deflating, especially when you know that there must be something wrong. I could never, ever thank you enough for all you do for your patients.. as well as for anyone fortunate enough to cross your path. I treasure the far too few moments that I’ve been able to spend with you.

      Thank you so, so much for supporting my little blog. You can’t imagine how much it means. I would love your input here ANY time. People will gain so much hope, wisdom, and understanding from you.

      Monique will always be one of my biggest gifts in life. I think of her ALL the time. I’ve never seen anyone travel hard times with the strength, grace, hope, faith, and positivity that she did. My mom and dad ADORED her. In a lifetime of trying, I could never express how much she means to me. I see those same qualities in you. Your sisterhood is like gold.

      So, so much love ….. <3

  26. Sase-
    You are one incredible person! You were back at WHS and are now. You’re such an inspiring, selfless individual that makes me want to be a better person everyday! Love you!

    • Oh Ash, your support here means absolutely everything to me. Please comment whenever you’re able. The world can learn so much from you. I’ve been learning from you since the day we met. I have always been so awestruck over the collection of qualities that are yours… even back when you were just a starting high school Love you so much. xoxx

  27. Sase,

    When you arrived at BABU, there was something about you that was so warm and inspiring. I could tell by your photos inside Instagram that there was a special spark in you that inspired others, and that you were going through something difficult with your health.

    I now see how significant the photo of you jumping (off the lifeguard stand at the beach) is! After such pain, you can bring yourself to doing what you love no matter what.

    As far as telling you about myself, I live in Kingman, Arizona, and love to be outside, running or walking with my horses. I used to ride my horse, but now he’s too old, so we just walk.

    My foot is sore now, and I’ve been worrying about when I’ll be able to run again. Reading your story makes me realize that it all works out. You have such a positive spirit, I’ll bet you were a great teacher. In fact you still are a great teacher, you are teaching us to be grateful for our lives.

    You said that when you were 11, comments by a couple of adults made you not want to sing. I hear stories all the time of teachers that put their students down because they don’t fit into the teacher’s mold. I’ve been through that myself in my artwork.

    I try to teach like my mother did. She taught painting and drawing in community college. My mother was trained at the best art schools in New York, and yet she never put anyone down for their work. I remember being a model for her class, and I thought one lady had no business being there, she was so bad. My mom, of course, encouraged her. I thought my mother was just being nice, but at the end of the semester, the lady was painting very well.

    I always remembered that and tried to see that in my students, even if they were only six years old.

    Glad to know you Sase, and you’d better watch out, this blog is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people.

    • Lucy… beautiful Lucy.

      I know that only a couple of online BABU group calls and some Instagram posts have afforded us togetherness, but I have to say, my heart found a deep place for you the second I “met” you. Your beauty jumps out of everything you say, express, and post. You see the world with such color, and you cherish people in a way that cause them to feel safe as well as inspired.

      I treasure the details of your life that you have shared here. I can just picture you out there with your horse… walking in true love and camaraderie, while still knowing that your riding memories are so precious to both of you.

      I hope so much that your foot heals quickly. Injuries can be so difficult to deal with. I’m sure that it will sort out soon.

      I sincerely appreciate the words of wisdom that you relayed on behalf of you and your mom.. two unbelievable teachers.. I can only imagine the dreams you’ve afforded your students to pursue.

      So glad to know you too, Lucy. You have no idea.

      PS .. Your words of encouragement practically took my breath away. <3

  28. Sase,
    I will re-introduce myself to you, a fellow traveler in this life’s journey. You are acquainted with me through the PLD group, so we have shared a facet of ourselves and our challenges. But we’re both so much more than that.
    On music: My mom says that before I could really talk, I could carry a tune, and she’d come in and find me singing to myself in my crib. I’m the 4th of 5 children (whose parents met through musci), and my older sisters began singing at a much older age. I have music in my head much of the time. Sometimes it spills out, though mostly it’s just my soundtrack. We didn’t have money for lessons, but I played the piano, the clarinet, and sang in choir as a child; moving to guitar and recorders in my teens; while always singing. Later, as a music major, I added string bass to my musical menagerie. That said, my talent is moderate, rather than astonishing, I was never the star, and would prefer to make music with other people than to be in the spotlight by myself.

    My body and health: With the soul of a dancer, I took up gymnastics (floor exercise and balance beam) because it was available through the school. Just after I turned 14, I blew out my knee on a tumbling pass, an injury from which it never recovered, despite surgeries. I’ve used crutches on and off since and was declared permanently partially disabled at 18 (after a failed surgery). The most disabling aspect was the severe pain caused by a nerve having been bound up in excess scar tissue during the healing process. Since that time, I’ve acquired rheumatoid arthritis (now, severe, advanced, for which I’ve had multiple joint replacements and tendon repairs), polycystic kidney disease, massive polycystic liver disease (not a surgical candidate), Sjogren’s, autoimmune encephalitis, autoimmune autononomic neuropathy/ganglionopathy, with attendant achalasia (lack of peristalsis in my esophagus and malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter) and gastroparesis (gastric motility disorder), adrenal insufficiency, and have sustained 20 documented fractures in the past dozen years — some nonunion, and including the skull fracture which caused two frontal lobe brain bleeds in addition to the direct damage. I think I’ve had 20 orthopedic surgeries. Most recently, I had a perforated colon, was deemed not a surgical candidate and after no progress with treatment, was referred for hospice. Told to pray for a miracle, I got one and made it out of the hospital 5 weeks later. Alas, I developed post-critical illness syndrome (which has several other names), leaving me with profound muscle weakness (myopathy) and impaired nerve sensation (polyneuropathy) in addition to balance issues which cause falls. Putting all that together, no medical provider really knows what to do with and for me, as there are too many confounding, complicating factors and zero precendent.

    My life: I have, and have had a wonderful life, with abundant blessings and love and adventures. I’ve had two careers (economist/professor and speech-language pathologist), have traveled to several countries and around the US, been married, raised a child (adopted so as not to pass on my “special” genes), acted in community theater, sang in various performing groups, have many dear friends and a loving family, had the luxury of being able to collect and send numerous small (1000+ books) to schools and communities in Africa, and discovered about a year ago that I am a visual artist — mostly painting thus far. Yes, there is unending physical pain and disability. Yes, I’ve lost the ability to play any of my musical instruments — and currently am unable to sing in choir due to my weakness and inability to rely on being able to be in a particular place and time. No, my physical conditions are not curable; some are untreatable, and some progressive and/or degenerative. Yet, I am now a human being, much more than a human doing, and my physical circumstances have been my guru, my teacher. Even still, I have low moments, and am struggling right now, but life is good: I live in deep gratitude and abundance, and look forward to each day of my one wild and precious life.

    Thank you for this blog. It is refreshing to have a link with someone who has also chosen not to be a victim of her body’s idiosyncracies, in favor of embracing the life she does have.

    T-girl

    • T-girl…

      You practically have me in tears – both for the heartache and for the hope. I treasure every single one of the words that you have shared here. I’m so, so grateful that you posted, as I am quite certain that it will bless every single person that reads them. I don’t think I know anyone who has had a bigger collection of challenges than yours, and here you are drenched in beauty.

      Your life is radiance incarnate. I can only imagine your legacy of students and patients who have been forever impacted by your amazingness. By the way, I have recently been in speech therapy for a late-in-life-discovery of my partial tongue tie. Haha.

      Your music, your art, your dance, your painting, your stage performances, .. with a soul as deep as yours, I am sure that the ripple effects of your expressions continue to this day.

      I am holding your miracle in praise, and I am enamored with the ways in which you allow uninvited (even astronomical) difficulties make you better. Every time you posted on the PLD site (though we don’t emote too much there), I could literally feel your compassion, inspiration, and encouragement in my bones. You are unbelievably stunning.

      When you said, “I am now a human being, much more than a human doing…,” that was EVERYTHING. Well actually, everything you said was also “everything.”

      You have my truest admiration.. please stay around here when you can. Your comments are sheer gold.

      Sending you much love.. and continuing to pray for your symptoms to ease and for your body to allow you to express that gigantic well of beauty that is yours.

      xo Sase

  29. Dear Lori,
    My name is Maddy Higgins and my San Diego family (Christina Burress) shared your inspiring story with me. I think Christina thought it would bring me some hope at the current moment, and it has. I won’t go into too much detail in the comments section, but your words/outlook hit home for me as I’m dealing with two chronic auto-immune diseases. Three years ago, at the age of 23 right after I graduated with my Masters from University of Portland, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Ulcerative Colitis and stage 1 Crohn’s disease. Both are an auto-immune IBD diseases. And although it is rare to get both, doctors say I’m the lucky one. My struggle with pain, fatigue, feeling like myself, what I can eat, physical fitness, and much more are a constant battle. Sometimes dimming my outlook on the great things I have going on in my life. My story shares similarities to yours though, and that’s why I want to thank you for sharing your words of hope. I too started with a grueling stomach ache that took me out of my job and had me hospitalized for months while being diagnosed, treated, and re-assessed. I am too a teacher (2nd grade, this will be my fourth year) and coach soccer at the local high school. I played varsity soccer in high school as sweeper, and club at Oregon State University where I graduated with my bachelors in 2011. I too have had to put working/coaching/social life all on hold. And I’ll admit these last few years have been the hardest of my life. With one life saving surgery to remove my whole colon in 2014, and six other surgeries total to date, I’m growing weary of the fact that I can still reclaim my life outside my small home/the hospital. Your story and words have truly inspired me to believe though that I’m not alone, nor do I have nothing to live for. Life is great, and life is worth the fight no matter how constant it may be. Thank you Lori for sharing.

    Maddy Higgins
    Oregon
    26 years old
    Colitis/Crohn’s Disease

    • Oh Maddy.. thank you so, so much for this post. I’m so honored that you shared your story with me. You can’t imagine just how much it has stirred my heart. I can see your beauty and brilliancy already.

      Are you related to Christina? I’ve known the Misens since I was 6. :) Any friend/family of theirs is a friend of mine, for sure.

      You are so young to deal with these challenges, and I take such great inspiration from your beauty, resiliency, perseverance, and bravery. I am also so deeply appreciative of your authenticity. The length of your hospital stay, the number of surgeries, the coupling of the two GI autoimmune issues, and so much more.. you have navigated this road so remarkably. At the same time, this must have been (and must continue to be) harder than hard.

      I can’t believe all of the similarities we share, though I am so much older. When you said “sweeper,” my heart melted. You obviously know that a goalkeeper is nothing without her sweeper. The bond that I shared with Christina being mine has had such spillover effects in our friendship.

      I would love to get to know you better and lend support in any way possible. If you can keep commenting here whenever you’re able, I know that we will ALL be so blessed by you.

      Sending you my whole heart of “feel better” wishes.

  30. Sase, I’m crying as I read this. I SO needed this extra boost and insight from your beautiful self. Thanks for putting it and you out there. I’m dealing with chronic pain and a possible back surgery. Full of fear. Every day is a struggle to wake up and deal with pain and the uncertainty. I appreciate this connection more and more every day. So glad we met all those years ago at UCLA. Big hugs to you! You’re a joy and an inspiration. xoxo

    • Oh Molly. I ache to hear that you’re in such pain, and I’m tucking those tears into my heart. Backs are so central to everything, and pain can distract and stifle us so much.. especially a beautifully vibrant and adventurous soul like you. I’m joining you in prayer .. for the doctors to sort things out and for you to feel better so soon. I so love our unique connection.. it ties us together so closely .. always. Here.. please let me know how I can help. I love you so much..

  31. You are an inspiration. I have enjoyed reading how you have turned what could have made you grow bitter into a life of becoming better. I have also taken my own mess with pkd and pld and turned it into a message. God bless you.

    • Wow, Judie. Your words here give me such buoyancy and encouragement. I would so love to get to know you better. Your story, your insights, your courage .. I know that they will impact me greatly. God bless you too. Hope to hear from you again.

      • Yes, I would enjoy visiting with you more. I believe your journey and the thoughts you record have the ability to help many who struggle both physically and mentally with having both pld and pkd. I was diagnosed at age 27. I just turned 60. I have been through a lot with this disease but I made a choice several years ago to take what I know and experienced through the pain of it to encourage those who live with fears. We can accept the disease as a full time tenant in our body but we still own the space this disease resides in. When this mindset is in place it becomes easier to separate who you really are. You are not defined by the disease, but you have the ability to use what you know for the good of others. This is what I am reading here and I encourage you to continue with your thoughts.

        • Oh Judie.. your words. Your words are stirring the depths of me. You have a way of profoundly seeing and expressing the beauty that can be so easily missed when one is in pain. I can only imagine the number of people whose lives you inspire and change for the better. I am so VERY grateful for your comments, and I know that I will continue to be inspired by and learn from you. What a beautiful way to start my day. I love everything that you said here. Praying that your symptoms go easy on you today and that it is a beautiful one <3

  32. Sase,
    You are so amazing and such an inspiration to all! Most people would have given up the fight but you keep fighting!!!! So proud of you!!! Keep it up!!
    Love,
    Brittany

    • Oh Brittany.. it’s SO amazing to hear from you. When I read your comment, my heart must have tripled in size. Your words hold such weight. Please stay in touch here if you can.. I have really missed your beauty and inspiration in my life. Love you.

  33. Awesome Sas!!!!
    There is no introduction needed for me but I will tell you that I too want to make a difference. I long to help people and I just realized that you are going to be my driving force here on earth to keep me from dropping my dream and passion.

    {{BIG TEXAS HUGS}}

    • I can’t even count how many times I read this comment over the last two days. You mean the world to me, Elosia. I love your heart. You make me better. Endlessly better.

    • Oh Kayti.. I don’t even have words. In case you ever forget, my facial expression and endless gushing when I saw you at your work that one afternoon say it all. Your beauty has touched my heart so deeply, and I’ve been changed irrevocably because of you. Love you xo

  34. Sase,
    I’m not going to write anything about me… You know a lot of that already. What I will say is that I am so proud of you – for many things, and most recently this wonderful, inspiring blog. Although I’m not struggling with disease, your words are full of warmth and wisdom – and I feel somehow ‘better’ for having read them. You are miraculous – and one of the most beautiful people I know. Thanks for posting this. Brava.
    I love you!
    -E

    • Em.. you leave me speechless. Speechless because words are not possibly broad enough for me to ever explain the inspiration that you bring to my heart. The raw, what-you-see-is-what-you-get conversations that we’ve always shared has grown my heart bigger and my soul deeper. You cause me to see the world differently.. you make me better. I am enamored with you in every way possible. Honestly, I love you so truly.

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Newsletter

Since my health issues prevent me from posting regularly, I'd love to send you a notification of new posts. This newsletter also has a few extra thoughts from yours truly. If interested, please enter your information below, then check your inbox for an email to confirm the subscription. My truest thanks, Sase

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Newsletter

Since my health issues prevent me from posting regularly, I'd love to send you a notification of new posts. This newsletter also has a few extra thoughts from yours truly. If interested, please enter your information below, then check your inbox for an email to confirm the subscription. My truest thanks, Sase

This information will never be shared for third part